Friday, October 17, 2008

Reunion and Disunion

I was invited to attend this year's Charger Huddle, the fall fundraising banquet for UNH's athletics programmes. The theme this year was firsts- as in first teams. I was the assistant coach for the Woman's Lacrosse team at UNH for the first four years- outlasting even the first coach. With de'Sha unable to attend, the current coach contacted me and asked me if I'd be there, and at the last minute I decided that I would.

Sixty dollars later, I had a great time- I'll post a few photos. It's easy to remember how hard being an assistant coach is when you have a full-time job- the hours, the long drives, the days you stand around in the frigid cold. And when you do that, you forget how much fun it is, how there's nothing quite like being part of a team.

I got to stand up and say a few words, spend time talking to a bunch of people I spent four years of life interacting with, and came away with a beer mug, a lapel pin and good feeling about having been a part of something.

Five minutes later, near the intersection of Whalley and Route 10, it all came crashing down. I was at a stoplight, waiting to turn and there was this woman in a winter jacket and sweatpants at a bench. She was hunched down oddly and appeared to be pulling the sweats over a pair of jeans. She appeared to be looking over the bench at the cars, but her furtive behaviour and body angle was all wrong.

Then she finished getting the extra layer of clothes on. She'd been bent over looking at a small child while she bundled up, made obvious when she picked up a baby or small toddler in a pink winter suit- pants and a winter coat. It was 10 o'clock at night and there was no bag of groceries or fast food. It was 50 degrees at the time and there's only one reason to dress for temperatures in the 30s- because you are going to be out in the cold all night.

Of course, I don't know the back story. Single mom who lost her job. Fleeing an abusing husband or kicked out by a heartless boyfriend ? Drugs ?

It doesn't matter. I don't believe in karma, or ying and yang or higher powers that pull puppet strings. But I have to wonder if the financial turmoil we are all experiencing isn't symptomatic of an economic culture so given over to greed that we have no solution for the 1.5 million people that experience some degree of homelessness over the course of a year.

Then again, I'll get up in the morning, ride my bike and run, and continue preparing for my trip to Florida to do the Ironman and forget at some point that the sixty dollars I spent tonight could have put up a mother and her baby daughter and fed them tonight...

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